It seems there is always something going on at the Brandenburg Gate.

The first time Holly and I visited Berlin, I wasn’t quite comfortable with the city enough to be out at night, and so I skipped on trying to take a picture of the Brandenburg Gate after dark. The second time we visited… well, that was in 2014 when the Germans were in the World Cup (and about to win it) and so they had turned the backside of the gate into a giant TV screen so that the entire city could come watch the games together, and indeed, it felt as though the entire city, nay, the entire world was crammed in the area. Pass. The last time Holly and I were there, well… some sort of festival was in town, complete with concert stage right behind the gate, and portable ferris wheel. Oh the luck! After laughing at my circumstances I decided to let it get a bit darker so I could use a slow shutter speed, making most of my fellow tourists disappear from the photo (except for that one dedicated soul, determined to get a good night photo with her iPhone who stood still as a stone for who know’s how long). The wait worked out as the sky ended up having some nice color to it, and if you don’t look so closely, you almost miss the circus happening around below the gate.

And so it goes with travel photography sometimes. Sometimes you just have to take the shot you’re given, instead of passing in hopes of having a better chance later.

The Brandenburg Gate, of course, is one of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks. The gate itself was finished in 1791 and has been the sight for several major historical events since. Two of those events are very vivid in my mind every time I see the gate. One memory is from my high school history books; the pictures of the Nazi army marching through the gate. The second is of the gate as a backdrop for the Berlin Wall as it came crumbling down in 1989. Definitely a humbling place to stand and reflect on all the things that have happened there.

–Dan Thompson

Brandenburg Gate

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